Audio Video News

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Jon Iverson  |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

Every year, as summer sales for consumer-electronics products drag a little, manufacturers and retailers wonder which products will be the trend-setters in the upcoming holiday season. According to a report just released by <A HREF="">International Data Corporation</A> (IDC), the hot niche for 1999 will be a new product category: digital video recorders (DVRs) from companies like <A HREF="">RePlay Networks</A> and <A HREF="">TiVo</A>.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

I have seen the future, and it is digital. On June 18, cinematic history was made as <I>Star Wars: Episode 1---The Phantom Menace</I> became the first movie in the U.S. to be publicly screened from a digital source rather than a film print (see <A HREF="">related story</A>).

Barry Willis  |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

Divx is gone. <A HREF="">Digital Video Express</A>, the <A HREF="">Circuit City</A> subsidiary that launched the pay-per-view DVD format less than a year ago, announced on June 16 that it would cease operations. Blaming lack of support from film studios and retailers, Circuit City decided to bow out early rather than continue to fight a losing battle. "We regret that a lack of support from studios and other retailers will prohibit consumers from receiving the exceptional benefits of the Divx system," says W. Alan McCollough, president and chief operating officer of Circuit City Stores, Inc. A refund program for Divx buyers is underway, company officials stated.

 |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

According to a June 14 report on the <A HREF="">OpenDTV news list</A>, <A HREF="">Showtime Networks</A> will begin delivering original HDTV programming early next year. Concerts, movies, and sports will all be produced in either 1080i or 720p. Showtime has not yet decided which format will get the ultimate nod, but Mark Greenberg, executive vice president for corporate strategy and communications, says his company is leaning toward 1080i as offering the biggest bang for the buck. Also undecided is whether HDTV signals will be delivered over dedicated channels or will share bandwidth with existing services.

Paula Nechak  |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

H<I>olly Hunter, Danny DeVito, Queen Latifah, Martin Donovan. Directed by Richard LaGravenese. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (letterbox). Dolby Digital 5.1. 100 minutes. 1998. New Line Home Video N4726. Rated R. $24.95.</I>

 |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

A plasma display's compact physical size, perfectly flat screen, and pixel-sharp picture answer many prayers for home-theater enthusiasts. There are a few downsides, however, including a lack of true blacks and prices equal to a new small car. But one of the biggest drawbacks so far is far too few pixels to properly present an HDTV image. To solve this problem, several manufacturers are creating larger displays with higher resolutions.

 |  Jun 13, 1999  |  0 comments

Last month, at HI-FI '99 in Chicago, Telarc's Bob Woods dismissed fears of a format war between the Super Audio Compact Disc---a format developed and promoted by Sony/Philips---and DVD-Audio. "Someone will make a universal player," he promised.

 |  Jun 13, 1999  |  0 comments

Last week, <A HREF="">DirecTV</A>, a subsidiary of <A HREF="">Hughes Electronics</A>, announced that its direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) television service acquired 110,000 new customers in May. This figure is a record for that month, the company reports, and a 57% increase in net customer acquisition over May 1998. An additional 145,000 customers---who previously subscribed only to programming from US Satellite Broadcasting---were gained last month by DirecTV when Hughes completed its merger with USSB on May 20.

Barry Willis  |  Jun 13, 1999  |  0 comments

News Corporation's <A HREF="">Fox Network</A> and the <A HREF="">National Association of Broadcasters</A> have gone their separate ways. Fox made the announcement on June 8 in protest over the Association's refusal to lobby against legal limits on the number of television stations one company can own. The limit is now defined by Federal law as a total number of stations that reach no more than 35% of the more than 100 million homes in the US. Three weeks earlier, <A HREF="">NBC</A>, a unit of General Electric, had threatened similar action over the NAB's refusal to change its policy.

Barry Willis  |  Jun 13, 1999  |  0 comments

Plasma displays have taken a big leap toward affordability. On June 10, <A HREF="">Fujitsu General America Inc.</A> announced a major reduction in the price of its Plasmavision 42 at the InfoComm International '99 confab in Orlando, Florida. The new price of $6995 is a 30% drop from the former suggested retail of almost $10,000---and half the price of the 42's predecessor, which was introduced at CES in 1997.

 |  Jun 13, 1999  |  0 comments

Last week, <A HREF="">Panasonic</A> announced that it will market hard-disk video recorders with <A HREF="">ReplayTV</A> technology under the Panasonic brand. The company expects to be one of the first outside Replay Networks, Inc. to market hard-disk recorders with ReplayTV, which allows television viewers to record shows "on the fly" directly onto a built-in hard disk.

 |  Jun 06, 1999  |  0 comments

According to the <A HREF="">Video Software Dealers Association</A>'s weekly VidTrac reporting service, <I>Saving Private Ryan</I> has debuted as the top-renting video ever. In its first six days of release, the report says, <I>Saving Private Ryan</I> has been rented by more consumers than any other film in the same opening-week time period.

Barry Willis  |  Jun 06, 1999  |  0 comments

A bout of box-office flops might have run its course at <A HREF="">Universal Pictures</A>. <I>The Mummy</I> has surprised skeptics by pulling in more than $118 million in ticket sales through the week of June 4. The remake of the classic horror flick is helping to pull the struggling studio out of its prolonged slump. The film division of <A HREF="">Seagram Ltd.</A> was the conglomerate's worst-performing division last year.

Wes Phillips  |  Jun 06, 1999  |  0 comments

W<I>arren Beatty, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Oliver Platt, Paul Sorvino, Jack Warren, Isaiah Washington. Directed by Warren Beatty. Aspect ratio: 1:85:1. Dolby Digital. 108 minutes. 1998. 20th Century Fox 4110398. Rated R. $34.98.</I>

Barry Willis  |  Jun 06, 1999  |  0 comments

In the wake of a rash of horrendous school shootings, President Clinton has ordered a federal study of marketing strategies used to promote movies, music, and video games. The <A HREF="">Federal Trade Commission</A> has been given a $1 million budget and 18 months to complete the study, which will be "designed to lift a veil on whether production companies deliberately use violent imagery and language to lure young consumers," according to a June 1 report by the <A HREF=""><I>Washington Post</I></A>.